Oct 15, 2012
"Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing," wrote member of the socially conscious rock band Tom Morello two months ago for Rolling Stone, "because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.
Now, with only a few weeks remaining until election day, Morello has a few more choice words for the Republican vice presidential candidate: "You're a jack-ass."
Not likely to win awards for substance with that sound-bite, Morello was more rounded in his full remarks, after being asked by W. Kamau Bell on his new television series, Totally Biased, to expand on "the beef" he had with Ryan and the musical politics of Rage Against the Machine.
"One of the strengths of the band is that it casts the nets pretty wide," Morello said. "You know, some people are attracted to the music, or the aggression, then later are exposed to the lyrics and the message behind it. And somewhat less so with someone like Paul Ryan. I got the feeling that he's one of those guys who came in as a jack-ass, listened to the music, and left as a jack-ass."
The remarks received wide laughter and applause from the audience, but don't accuse Morello of being a partisan operative or Obama cheerleader.
When asked to respond to Bell's tongue-in-cheek question about how Morello's mother felt about his not being as successful as Barack Obama in his life, the rocker-activist said: "Well, I'd say given the fact that Barack has not closed Guantanamo and that his drones are killing civilians and given his performance [in the first presidential debate against MItt Romney] -- my mom feels pretty good about where I'm at."
And more seriously, when asked to articulate the "diividing line" between supporting Obama and being a critic, Morello responded:
"I admit that I drank the kool-aid last time, and I thought that this is a guy that didn't look like any other presidential candidate, didn't talk like any other presidential candidate, but when he got into office he was like a lot of other presidents before. And when you have this two party system that's so controlled by money in order to get through the door, there's a lot of compromise."
Ultimately, Morello said, his thinking has been clarified by these realities and said: "You fight from the bottom up, you don't wait for the top to drizzle down."
Watch the full interview here:
Morello also shared some political insights in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter over the weekend.
"I think that there have already been great successes," Morello told THR, referring to the Occupy movement that took hold in Manhattan last year and spread to cities nationwide. "One is the idea that this horrific economic inequality exists, it's already something on the front page. The great, dirty, five letter word you can't say in America -- class -- is on the front page of the New York Times. When in memory has a Republican candidate had their feet held to the fire because they're too rich? That's a result of Occupy. It's just not okay. When some people are starving to death, and others have six yachts or whatever, that shit's not cool."
And finally, asked about the ongoing battle between the two major parties, Morello chastized both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for ignoring the most vulnerable in society. "It seems like it's a contest, between the two candidates, who can say the words 'middle class' the most," the rocker-activist told THR. "Like, if you say 'middle class' the most, you win. Well, half the country is in poverty, kids are going hungry, from West Hollywood to Appalachia tonight. But those people don't have a lobby, and they don't donate to the campaign in a way that they're going to get something back for it."
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